Former Republican Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul has learned the hard way why it is so important to register your own domain name.
The domain name RonPaul.com has pointed to a website promoting Congressman Paul’s political causes and career for years, but the domain is not owned by Mr. Paul himself. Instead, it is owned by a friend of one of his political supporters, and that man is refusing to hand over control of the domain to Mr. Paul now that his political career has apparently come to an end.
The RonPaul.com debacle is only the latest in a long line of high profile domain disputes, and it illustrates with crystal clarity why it’s so important for website owners to control their own domain names.
Most people find that it simplifies things if they allow the person they hire to build their website to also purchase and manage the domain name on their behalf as part of a package deal. But this often turns out to be a big mistake. If they ever decide to move their business to a different webmaster, gaining control of their own domain name can be virtually impossible if the original web designer (who is quite often the actual legal owner of the domain) refuses to hand it over.
Most ethical webmasters will gladly relinquish control of a domain name when the business relationship comes to an end, but some will not. The domain is often held hostage as a method of coercing the customer into renewing a contract or paying an exorbitant fee in exchange for control of the domain.
My advice: If you plan to hire someone to build a website for you, open an account at Godaddy.com or with some other domain registar and register your domain name yourself. It’s super easy to do, and it’s dirt cheap. Once you have your domain name in hand you can start looking for someone to build your website. All your chosen web designer will need to do is walk you through the very simple steps of changing the DNS settings for your domain so that visitors will be able to find your website on the Internet.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore